This article has been contributed by Teon Rosandic, VP EMEA at xMatters .
Why was the IT service management and help desk function created?
Most likely, it stemmed from an idea to establish a task force of specialists capable of providing assistance in any complex technical issue.
Over the decades, the service desk function has evolved from elite efficiency artistry into first level issue resolution ranging from the basic resetting of a password, to the complex, cascading outages, which can involve all stakeholders and affect the most important services within the organisation.
However, all too often, the relevance of the function is underestimated. The perception is generally that the service management function is not as aligned or as strategic as it should be.
Proving the efficiency and value that the service desk provides to internal and external stakeholders can change that perception. But to do so, you have to begin by going back to the original objectives of the service desk.
It is easy to reconstruct how service management has become distracted with the issues of running an effective service desk. The goals of the help desk are a paradox. The range of tasks can be infinite and undefined, training is difficult, resources are scarce and customer’s expectations are growing at an increasing rate. Too much information is being broadcast out to groups without taking into consideration how and why a person wants that information. The good news is that there are steps that can be taken to increase the relevance of service management.
Let’s examine some of the best practices to increase your business relevance:
- Automating mundane tasks – The ultimate goal of automation is to perform a required process in a streamlined, efficient and repeatable fashion. In order to automate a time consuming first-line task, you will need to create synergy between incident and dispatch assignment by combining industry leading service desk applications with a communication platform. The platform you choose needs to allow each team to declare who is responsible, available, skilled and interested in any issue. When incidents take place, personnel are automatically located, dispatched and working on resolving those incidents without the need for the service desk to perform the slow, manual task of looking up who’s on call, who’s responsible, and what their contact information is.
- Optimising first call closure – Not all issues can be solved on the first call from the service desk. However, by automating the mundane tasks, we can reinvest time in our first-line resolution capability. The savings allow us to train first-line specialists and provide time for personnel to more accurately trouble shoot and resolve issues. In addition, it gives the service desk the ability to spend more time with customers during satisfaction-impacting issues.
- Enabling effective escalation – One of the challenges of effective service management, is knowing when and how to escalate an issue. Finding the right person can be complicated and the odds of effective, accurate escalation feel like one in a million. Effective escalation starts with enabling the team responsible for meeting the service level with the ability to control the information they require. By allowing each team leader or director to architect the process, it ensures that when escalations are required, the correct person is notified. Through the automated delivery of information to the person responsible, the time to dispatch and resolve is reduced, resulting in fewer escalations and eliminating non value-added tasks such as wait time for assignment, call out, and person-to-person escalations.
- Instant and frequent visibility – One of the largest challenges a service management organisation faces is to provide visibility to the consumers of the service. Business personnel require proactive notifications of service interruption; however, the process of manually calling 500 executives in 50 countries is not realistic without the help of a communication platform. Additionally, using internal social media channels such as Facebook, Chatter and Jive requires information to be pushed out, rather than pulled in. What’s required to provide meaningful, instant and frequent visibility and increase the perception of the quality of service? First, the organisation must have matured through the previous steps. Before providing proactive alerts, the service management function must be operating effectively and efficiently. The second step is the integration of a communication system capable of supporting global operations, business personnel, business service oriented alerts and the ability to target content to each person based on their needs, role and requirements – it’s called personalised information.
- Champion transparency and accountability – Service management can provide an organisation with the tools necessary to increase efficiency and transparency. However, to reach this stage, organisations must become comfortable with publishing the results of their efforts. In today’s world, IT services are all too visible, lags are noticed and incidents become known by your customer’s customer. Transparency and accountability are the key drivers in trust and assurance.
The key to increasing the relevance of the IT service management function is to streamline inefficient processes, and improve communication throughout the organisation. Automating redundant, mundane tasks to improve efficiencies is critical. Once you have an airtight process that ensures the service desk is running smoothly, you must then deliver proactive notifications to the people who care about specific situations. While some may argue that social media channels are the perfect way to do this, it takes away the notion of personalised information. Everyone is seeing the information posted there, and they have to actively seek it out. IT service management should have a communication platform that delivers only the information internal and external customers care about, and need to know, directly to them.
This article has been contributed by Teon Rosandic, VP EMEA at xMatters.